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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NATCOMS warns FG, BPE on NITEL

The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) has warned the Federal Government, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and Ministry of Communications Technology, not to sale the Nigerian Telecommunications Plc (NITEL) through the purported Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) strategy under the ‘willing buyer-willing seller bases.

The group also warned of what it described as ‘emerging monopoly’ if such a step is taken to dispose the first national carrier.

NATCOMS sounded these warnings through its National President, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, who also canvassed for a N400 billion bail-out for NITEL to enable it pay off the current liability of estimated N300 billion, while the additional N100 billion could go for Operating Expenses (OPEX).

This, he said, would help NITEL to sail through to at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for another round of public offer after Transcorp’s attempt in 2006.

He stressed that all network players and operators must be given an equal playing ground so as for them to enjoy a healthy and an enabling competition-friendly telecommunications policies, administration and regulation.

“… To the overall benefit of Nigerians in general and Nigerian subscribers in particular,” he declared, insisting that no current operator should be given exclusive possession and license to become national carrier 1 currently is for NITEL, thereby dictating and monopolizing the Nigeria’s national carrier status.

He recalled that in the last 10 years, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has made about five unsuccessful attempts for the sale of NITEL-MTEL, the last was with the New Generation Limited and Omer International who emerged in 2009 as the preferred and reserved bidders, respectively.

“… But fell short of paying for the company and the payment deadlines was extended several times, to no avail,” Ogunbanjo said.

Based on the foregoing, he pointed out that BPE has taken the case to the Presidency and the National Council of Privatisation (NCP) under the chairmanship of Alhaji Namadi Sambo, for approval to liquidate or dispose to a buyer under the ‘willing buyer-willing seller basis’. The willing buyer-willing seller situation is a process that allows the BPE to receive tenders for a company and hold negotiations on the selling terms and conditions, with the bidder(s) until an agreement suitable to both parties is reached.

Ogunbanjo decried the rumour make a round that BPE and NCP led by Sambo are making plans to sale NITEL to an existing operator, who is yet to explore the initial licenses obtained some eight years ago.

Lobbyist, he said, are already at work on behalf of the alleged operator at the Presidency to buy NITEL-MTEL, the 1st national carrier for about $450 million, which NATCOMS boss said would draw the nation back as the end-result would be a monopoly Nigerian subscribers and the entire telecommunications industry would not afford.

He emphasized that the rumour has it that BPE and NCP wanted to achieve this aim through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), claiming that it will run distinctly from the initial license.

NATCOMS, therefore, urged Nigerian telecom subscribers and the entire telecommunications sector player to resist this move by joining forces.

“Telecom industry will cherish a competition-friendly telecommunications spectrum given to all industry players and operators and not the concentration of spectrum to favour an operator in the name of SPV’s and willing buyer-willing seller,” NATCOM president charged.

NATCOMS, further appealed to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice President, Arch. Namadi Sambo who is also the current Chairman, National Council on Privatisation, the Honourable Minister in the Ministry of Communication Technology - Mrs. Omobola Johnson and the Executive Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission - Dr. Eugene Juwah to remain firm and protect the interest of large population of the country than playing to the gallery of an individual.

“All communications-friendly players and stakeholders should not allow this willing buyer-willing-seller sale of Nigeria’s first national carrier – NITEL-MTEL to any individual company, especially with an existing license bouquet,” he said, adding that it would mean too many favours to the detriment of other operators.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

1 comment:

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